Hebron, Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Tue 6.7.10, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
- Hebron – Are IDF orders becoming stricter, or did we just happen to run into some “commander’s” individual initiative?
- An incident on Friday, 2.7.10, at the village of Deir Raza.
- Meitar crossing – meeting with Moti, the manager
All laborers have crossed by 7:00 and the passageway is empty. A few families of prisoners wait under the awning. Five buses were waiting when we returned.
The roads are deserted all the way to Hebron, except at the Dura Elfawwar junction where we see military vehicles. The market at the Kvasim junction is less crowded. The IDF isn’t there today.
All the roadblocks are open!
Are IDF orders becoming stricter, or did we just happen to run into an individual initiative by some “kodkod” (commander)?
The city is deserted. We drive along our usual route when suddenly, at the beginning of Shuohada Street, a soldier stops us and asks to see IDs.
Why? He checks and lets us drive on.
We go another kilometer, and another soldier, next to Kikar Gross, signals us to stop: “You can’t go through.”
Because Arabs can’t ride on Shuhada Street, and you also came via H1 at the Pharmacy checkpoint.
“No we didn’t! We came the same way we always do, and passed the Pharmacy checkpoint on the side that we’re allowed to pass. Moreover, we’ve been here for years, riding on our shifts, Muhammad is an Israeli citizen, like us.”
”OK, just a minute, I have to talk to the kodkod.”
He whispers something again into the radio, already convinced we didn’t cross where its forbidden, but the kodkod is stubborn: “Arabs can’t drive on Shuhada. Sorry, it’s forbidden!”
Maybe they don’t want us to see them dancing…
We decided to go to the police to report the limitations imposed on civilians.
“Yes, yes,’ says the soldier, happy to get rid of us. “Talk to the police.”
So we went to the police station at the Cave of the Patriarchs. They know us very well. We tell our story, and express our surprise at the soldiers’ reaction.
The policeman tries to explain that there are new orders because of all the mess here. What mess?! What orders?! I ask.
“There’s an order from the Commanding General,” he says.
Can we see the order? I ask.
Yes, he replies. Wait a minute.
We wait. After a while the policeman returns. “I don’t have an order from the Commanding General; get it from the army. But I spoke to the DCO, you’ve got a permit to move around. If you have any problems, tell the soldiers you’ve got a permit.”
The effort paid off. We return to Shuhada. The soldiers at all the roadblocks have already been updated and let us pass.
All along the road, and at Tel Rumeida, the soldiers haven’t detained anyone.
We went to B.’s grocery. We haven’t visited him for a long time. He says they stopped paving the road connecting to the worshippers’ route because the court ordered a 60-day wait. That’s also good. He tells us that every Friday and Saturday dozens of settlers come from Qiryat Arba and fill the road passing beneath Beit HaMeriva, and pray there. They’re not allowed to go inside, but to stand outside, make noise a pray is permitted.
And the Palestinians? They stay home.
An incident on Friday, 2.7.10, at the village of Deir Raza.
N., our friend, called and told us that settlers and soldiers showed up at his fields which are filled with ruins and caves. He had tools in one of them, jerrycans, spray cans, eating utensils, a mattress and other items he uses when working his fields. The settlers and soldiers entered this “storeroom,” broke and shattered everything, and took the pickaxes and pitchforks away with them. Afterwards they crossed his village from east to west (he said that everyone hid in their homes out of fear), to a vehicle that waited for them on Route 60 and picked them up.
He complained in Dura, at the Palestinian coordination office, where they promised to submit a complaint to the Israelis. He also said that Palestinian TV reported the incident on Saturday and on Sunday.
N, of course, is very shocked and hurt. Up to now, he said, his contacts with the settlers had been proper. He simply can’t understand the vandalism…
I contacted “Yesh Din,” who promised to act as soon as possible. Let’s hope they do.
Meitar crossing – meeting with Moti, the crossing manager
Moti awaits us, concerned and ready to listen.
He says that what’s been most important to him since taking the job has been to create conditions permitting people to cross quickly so that the laborers get to work on time. Now, when the equipment and staff at his disposal make this possible, he wants to upgrade the waiting shed and equip it so it’s more comfortable. In addition, it will be divided so that if it’s crowded men and women won’t be jammed together, and the women will feel more comfortable. He says the slalom design of the passage is necessary for safety, as is the fence surrounding the shed.
We again ask that all changes be carried out with maximum sensitivity to the needs and culture of the people passing through the checkpoint. Moti promises that he’ll do so.
On Fridays many fewer laborers show up, so the staff is smaller, but he assures us that he’s always able to open an additional inspection passage and add staff if necessary.
Bathrooms on the Palestinian side are now only open to women and children because the DCO is responsible for maintaining them and is still having difficulties. The laborers can use the bathrooms on the Israeli side. There are apparently problems keeping them clean as well.
To sum up, we got the impression that there’s a desire to solve problems fairly, but it’s important to remind ourselves that the Ministry of Defence Crossings Unit isn’t the only one making decisions about conditions and procedures. Other actors have a great influence on how the place operates.
That’s the situation as of now. We can only keep following up and hope that the location will actually serve as a transit point between countries and will look and operate like one.